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Spring 2015 Convocation Mixes Innovation with Tradition

By Ravven Evans

Bowie State University marked its first convocation of its sesquicentennial celebration in songs, prayers, and speeches on Feb. 11 in Myers Auditorium in the Martin Luther King Jr. Communication Arts Center.

This year’s convocation held to the university’s 150-year traditions, but also introduced innovations that looked toward the institution’s future. As in years past, the ceremony began with the posting of the colors, singing of the “Star Spangled Banner” and “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.” But this year, the presiding officer was not an administrator, but Richard Lucas III, a student in the Department of History and Government.

Dr. Darlene Spitzer-Antezana, a BSU graduate and chairperson of the Department of History, Political Science, Geography & Anthropology at Prince George’s Community College, gave wonderful presentation of the history of Bowie State University. She started by saying, “we are here to celebrate the 150 years of Bowie State University and Black History Month,” and ended it with “we are privileged to be a part of Bowie State.”

Provost Weldon Jackson gave incredible remarks on the status of Bowie State. “We are proud to announce our undergraduate enrollment is 4,285, graduate enrollment with 1,250” he declared proudly.

Miss Bowie State University Marissa Massey, who shined bright in a yellow dress, gave tips on how to do better this semester. “If you need help ask, if you get tired take a nap, if you aiming for an A, find what study methods work for you, and lastly if you need some fun; we your student government association has tons of advice.”

Keynote speaker Dr. David L. Reed, assistant professor of history and a BSU graduate, gave a jarring, informative speech regarding HBCUs. He started by naming all students who graduated from HBCUs who went on to have amazing careers: Martin Luther King Jr., Booker T. Washington, Oprah Winfrey, Thurgood Marshall, Langston Hughes, Alice Walker, Taraji P. Henson and more. He also named successful Bowie State University alumni or former students who have accomplished much in their lives. Some who were among the list was Toni Braxton, Wale, and Brother Yao (f.k.a. Hoke Glover), who opened one of the largest African-American bookstore in the United States, etc.

Dr. Reed left everyone with an inspiring comment: “You don’t need to go to an institution to be great; you need to be great at the institution where you are.”

BSU President Dr. Mickey L. Burnim praised Dr. Reed’s presentation, quoting it as a “historical context.” He said the message that he heard was, “Institutions like this provide opportunities for you to take action so that your name will be listed on the roll call for future speakers.”